Friday, October 09, 2015

Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households in the USA

The video and transcript are now available for the Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on two recent reports about immigrant welfare use. The first report found that 51 percent of households headed by immigrants, both legal and illegal, use welfare, compared to 30 percent of households headed by the native-born. The second looked at legal status, finding that 49 percent of legal immigrant households and 62 percent of illegal immigrant households access welfare.

Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a leading authority on welfare, spoke of the link between education level and welfare. Even though most immigrant households include someone who works, immigrants are disproportionately low-skilled, so they cannot pay enough in taxes to pay for government benefits they receive. Low skill immigrants receive "4 to 5 dollars of benefits for every dollar paid," Rector said.

View the video HERE.  View the transcript HERE


The Right Does Have Answers on Guns, Mr. President

By Dennis Prager

On the assumption that there are good and bad people on both the right and the left and that everyone is horrified by mass shootings, how is one to explain the great divide between right and left on the gun issue as it relates to these mass murders?

Why does the left focus on more gun control laws, and why doesn't the right?

One reason is quintessentially American. Most Americans believe that it is their right - and even their duty - to own guns for self-protection. Unique among major democratic and industrialized nations, Americans have traditionally believed in relying on the state as little as possible. The right carries on this tradition, while the left believes in relying on the state as much possible - including, just to name a few areas, education, health care and personal protection.

A second reason for the left-right divide is that the left is uncomfortable with blaming people for bad actions. The right, on the other hand, is far more inclined to blame people for their bad actions.

Thus, liberals generally blame racism and poverty for violent crimes committed by poor blacks and Hispanics, while conservatives blame the criminals. Likewise, during the Cold War the left regarded nuclear weapons as the enemy while conservatives saw Communist regimes that possessed nuclear weapons as the enemy. It was the arms, not the values of those in possession of the arms, that troubled the left.

The third reason for the left-right divide on guns is that the two sides ask different questions when formulating social policies. The right tends to ask, "Does it do good?" The left is more likely to ask, "Does it feel good?"

Attitudes toward the minimum wage provide an excellent example.

As I noted in a recent column, in 1987, The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage. The title of the editorial said it all: "The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00."

"There's a virtual consensus among economists," wrote the Times editorial, "that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market."

In 1987 the Times editorialized against having any minimum wage because it asked the question: "Does it do good?"

Twenty-seven years later, the same editorial page wrote the opposite of what it had written in 1987, and called for a major increase in the minimum wage.

Why? Did the laws of economics change? Of course not.

What changed was the question the Times asked. Having moved further and further left, the Times editorial page was now preoccupied not with what does good, but with what feels good. And it feels good to raise poor people's minimum wage.

So, too, on gun control. Immediately after the killings in Oregon, President Obama expressed great anger over Congress's unwillingness to pass more gun laws. But neither he nor other left-wing gun control advocates tell us what law or laws - short of universal confiscation of guns (which is as possible as universal deportation of immigrants here illegally) - would have stopped any of the mass shootings that recently occurred.

To liberals it feels good to declare a college a "gun-free zone." Does it do good? Of course not. It does the opposite. It informs would-be murderers that no one will shoot them.

On gun violence, the left doesn't ask, "What does good?" It asks, "What feels good?" It feels good to call for more gun laws. It enables liberals to feel good about themselves; it makes the right look bad; and it increases government control over the citizenry. A liberal trifecta.

Are federal background checks a good idea? The idea sounds perfectly reasonable. But if they wouldn't have prevented any of the recent mass shootings, they would have been no help.

So, then, short of universal confiscation, which is both practically and constitutionally impossible, what will do good? What will reduce gun violence?

One thing that would make incomparably more difference than more gun laws is more fathers, especially in the great majority of shooting murders - those that are not part of a mass shooting. Why aren't liberals as passionate about policies that ensure that millions more men father their children as they are about gun laws? Because such thinking is anathema to the left. The left works diligently to keep single mothers dependent on the state (and therefore on the Democratic Party). And emphasizing a lack of fathers means human behavior is more to blame than guns.

Another is to cultivate participation in organized religion. Young men who attend church weekly commit far fewer murders than those who do not. But this too is anathema to the left. The secular left never offers religion as a solution to social problems. To do so, like emphasizing fathers, would shift the blame from guns to the criminal users of guns.

I would ask every journalist who cares about truth to ask every politician who argues for more guns laws, and every anti-gun activist, just two questions:

"Which do you believe would do more to decrease gun violence in America - more gun laws or more fathers?" "More gun laws or more church attendance?"

Barack Obama says, "Our gun supply leads to more deaths. The GOP has no plausible alternative theory."

The GOP does. But as usual, few Republicans say what it is. And no liberal wants to hear it.



Why Government Has Grown

by HERBERT LONDON.  I have been reading Herb for about 40 years so I am pleased to see that he is still fighting the good fight at age 76

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O'Neill, once said "all politics is local." It was a sample statement that in time became axiomatic. One politician after another echoed the refrain. In fact, I cannot recall any public refutations.

For a time logic suggested that this assertion is correct. In my judgment, however, that time has passed; if anything, politics is national.

The relationship between the government and the individual is complicated in large part because of mediating institutions - these private agencies of family, schools, churches, associations. These institutions in the aggregate are individually served to moderate a heavy and intrusive hand of federal authority. Alexis de Tocqueville, writing about America in the 1840's described these institutions as part of the national character and national resiliency.

The difficulty with this characterization is that these moderating structures are in disarray. Each is failing at its role eroding the barrier between government and the individual.

Family status is confused by the high rate of divorce, illegitimacy and polyamory. The bonds that held family together are challenged by progressive notions of sexual union. What a family is, how it is defined, is subject to a variety of interpretations; one thing is clear - the family as a unit, together through a bond is rapidly disappearing.

Empirical evidence is mounting that the schools do not do their job. Students graduate from high school unprepared for a job or higher education. Most significantly, the principles on which this civilization is based are not transmitted. Young people may love the freedom America allows but they know very little about "first principles" or why our form of liberty must be defended. Unanchored to my traditional belief, these citizens are subject to propagandizing and even the incremental loss of liberty.

Churches were once religious centers urging a belief in God. Some still perform this role. But many are social and political centers promoting social justice narrowly construed as political lobbying. Sermons often deal with national issues rather than biblical propositions. The result is that churches have lost their legitimacy as moral arbiters. They may represent some segment of the population, but cannot claim the role of transcendent interpreters of faith or morals.

Associations were once the bulwark of civil authority and pride. They did good deeds; they were the backbone of towns; they represented civic duty and a desire to help those in need. Now, however, their numbers are dwindling. Those in attendance tend to be gray around the temples. Downtown associations are becoming uptown clubs.

Facing conditions of the kind described here it is hardly surprising that federal government influence is growing. Citizens are adrift searching for meaning in lives that cannot find comfort in traditional institutions.

The nanny state organized by President Obama and his advisors is a national outgrowth of mediating institutions in trouble. If there is a way out of this morass, it is through restoration. Rebuilding schools as learning centers; families as units of cohesion; churches as moral centers and associations as the backbone of civic authority. It can be done, but it does mean weaning the citizenry from the test of national assistance. After decades of feeding at the public troth, habits of mind have been inscribed. As I see it, the time has come to uninscribe them. And it is suitable to do it as soon as possible.



Obama Putin vows to protect Christians worldwide

As part of his manifesto for the upcoming Russian presidential elections, candidate Vladimir Putin has promised to add the protection of Christian communities across the globe to the duties of his foreign office.

Following the meeting with Patriarch Kirill, The Patriarch was accused of using his power to meddle in political affairs, yet defended himself saying "We would like to talk to [Putin] as the prime minister, but first of all as with a candidate for the presidential post in our country who, of course, has more chance than anybody else to turn this candidacy into the real post"

The head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Illarion, said that every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the world, specifying that he was talking about such countries as Iraq, Pakistan and India. The cleric asked Putin to make the protection of Christians one of the foreign policy priorities in the future.

Putin answered: "This is how it will be, have no doubt."



Baltimore: A City Broken After (Black) Mismanagement

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a presentable black but a fool nonetheless

Politically, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made a mistake after the incident in Baltimore that left Freddie Gray mortally injured in the back of a police van. During the protests and criticisms of the city's police force, she sided with the mob looking for its brand of "justice" instead of her police force attempting to uphold Rule of Law.

It yielded bitter fruit. Police officers strapped on their guns every morning demoralized. City residents viewed the police with disrespect. And criminals are flexing newfound confidence.

As a result, crime has spiked in the city. During September, the number of non-fatal shootings were double that of 2014. Homicides climbed 39%.

This is where it gets ironic: Hot Air's Jazz Shaw notes that the U.S. Council of Mayors held a meeting in the city at the beginning of October to discuss, in the words of the Baltimore Sun, "economic development, community policing and the spike in homicides many cities saw over the summer."

Baltimore is hardly the poster child for solutions to these problems, as Rawlings-Blake announced that she would not seek another term as mayor. Another leftist village burns.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Thursday, October 08, 2015

The black jellyfish in the White house

Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power compressed seven-plus years of the Obama administration’s staggering stupidity, clueless arrogance and frightening adolescence into a single tweet. “We call on #Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo & civilians & to focus on ISIL,” it stated.

Does anything epitomize this administration better than a clueless tweet from a clueless twit? Most of the reaction to it is best described as astonished bemusement. “Did you consider beginning with ‘We REALLY REALLY REALLY express our SUPER-DUPER DEEP concern…’? That would’ve been good,” offered Freedom Post. “Just out of idle curiosity, any ideas beyond hash tags and stern communiques?” wondered Michael Frost. “Ooh, Samantha, if there’s anything the Russians respond to it’s sternly-worded tweets. What’s next? A folk song?” cracked Al Copersino.

“In the first two hours after Power sent the tweet, 100% of the responses were either critical, mocking, or both,” the Independent Journal informed us. This would be the same Samantha Power who, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, were pulled out of the United Nations General Assembly meeting by President Obama for a video conference just in time to avoid listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.

What didn’t Obama want them to hear? “I’ve long said that gravest danger facing our world is the coupling of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and I’m gravely concerned that the nuclear deal with Iran will prove to be the marriage certificate of that unholy union,” Netanyahu stated.  “One of history’s most important yet least learned lessons is this: the best intentions don’t prevent the worst outcomes.”

Netanyahu also saved a few choice words for the conglomeration of dictators, thugs and weak-kneed Western leaders who epitomize the increasingly fraudulent entity we called the United Nations. “Seventy years after the murder of six-million Jews, Iran’s rulers promised to destroy my country, murder my people, and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here, has been absolutely nothing. Utter silence. Deafening silence,” Netanyahu stated.  

“Politicians in the region close to Tehran as well as analysts who have been closely following its role in Syria say a decision has been made, in close coordination with the Russians and the Assad regime, to increase the number of fighters on the ground through Iran’s network of local and foreign proxies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Close coordination? Where are the same Democrat and media hacks who pontificated about “snap back” sanctions? No doubt we can expect them to defend that assertion with all the gusto demonstrated by cockroaches that scurry back into the dark corners of a kitchen when the light is turned on. That’s what happens when the pontificators are revealed as the utter frauds they truly are — and always were.

It’s a fraud that begins right at the top of the political food chain. “President Obama, addressing Russian intervention in Syria at a White House press conference, said Tuesday Iran and Syria President Bashar Assad represented Russia’s entire coalition ‘and the rest of the world makes up ours,’” Fox News reports.

Obama dug himself an even deeper hole. “This is not a contest between the U.S. and Russia,” he insisted. “We’re not going to make Syria a proxy war between Russia and the United States. Our battle is with ISIL."

News flash, Mr. Obama. Vladimir Putin has already made this a de facto proxy war on behalf of both Iran and Assad. Moreover, your so-called coalition won’t lift a finger to stop him. Why would they? As Henry Kissinger cynically observed almost 40 years ago, "It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal.” No one has epitomized that reality more than the current occupant in the White House.

And no one is more dangerous. For the first time in seven years, the most arrogant president in American history is facing an opponent he and the Orwellian Ministry of Truth our media has become cannot cow into silence, intimidate with false charges of racism, or belittle with anything resembling a shred of credibility.

Thus when Obama opines that “Mr. Putin’s action’s have only been successful in so far as they have bolstered his poll ratings inside of Russia” and that this foray into Syria “is not a smart strategic move on Russia’s part,” it doesn’t take much of an imagination to believe such admonitions are little more than a source of a amusement for the former KGB thug.

Thus one is left to wonder how the same adolescent-like petulance that engendered Obama making sure Kerry and Power were not in attendance for Netanyahu’s speech will manifest itself with regard to the man who has taken a wrecking ball to the president’s carefully cultivated image.

An internationally belittled narcissist with a long track record of dismissing critical wisdom from his military advisors is the stuff of genuine nightmares.

Two recent political cartoons emphasize our current dilemma. The first is a reference to yet another administration scandal, the revelation that intel reports were manipulated to create a public narrative that all was going well in the fight against ISIS. Two diplomats are standing next to Obama seated at a desk, while the president is reading an intel report with a smiley face on the cover. “If your Turkish allies were bombing your Kurdish allies and your Russian allies were bombing your Syrian allies, you’d doctor the intelligence too,” one of the diplomats states.

The second cartoon is far more devastating. Two men with the words “Russia” and “China” printed on their respective backs are shown sharing a knock-knock joke. “Want to hear a joke?” asks the Russian. “Yes,” the Chinese character replies. And so it goes: “Knock! knock!" "Who’s there?” “President Obama” “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.” “I love that one,” the Russian says. “Me too,” says the Chinese character.

“The Pentagon said Friday that an American-trained rebel commander in Syria had surrendered trucks and ammunition this week to forces affiliated with an offshoot of Al Qaeda,” the New York Times reported Sept. 26, further noting that this debacle follows an admission by Centcom head Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to a Senate committee 10 days earlier that “only four or five Syrians trained by the American military to confront the Islamic State remained in the fight — an acknowledgment that a $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters had gone nowhere. General Austin also said that the United States would not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian fighters anytime soon,” the paper added.

On the other hand, it appears the Obama administration did perpetrate a devastating attack over the weekend. Unfortunately it was on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, killing 22 and wounding 37 others. Why was the attack perpetrated? “The military has been playing an increasingly active role in Afghanistan amid a Taliban resurgence, particularly in the northern province of Kunduz,” reports the Times.

Taliban resurgence? “The bottom line is, it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama told us in May of 2014. “When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way. By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000. In addition to bringing our troops home, this new chapter in American foreign policy will allow us to redirect some of the resources saved by ending these wars to respond more nimbly to the changing threat of terrorism, while addressing a broader set of priorities around the globe.”

“I think Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” Obama added.

No again, Mr. President. Americans have learned that winning wars is utterly anathema to a president and his party whose retreat from the world stage is a complete disgrace — topped only by their determination to pave the way for Iran’s entry into the nuclear club. And make no mistake: It was Obama and Democrats who convinced Americans they could embrace the luxury of war-weariness, utterly irrespective of events on the ground. If that luxury precipitates a spate of domestic jihadist violence Americans will pay a terrible price to re-learn a simple lesson:

Just because you don’t want war with Islamo-facists doesn’t mean they don’t want war with you. And the reality that so many Americans are apparently convinced after only 14 years that 9/11 was a “one off” is astounding.

“What did he know and when did he know it?" asks New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. "The immortal question about Richard Nixon and Water­gate should be posed to Barack Obama about Syria. What and when did he know about Vladimir Putin’s axis-of-evil coalition? The significance is not limited to Syria. The question goes to the heart of the Iran nuclear deal, especially the timing of the congressional votes.”

Goodwin illuminates the implications. “By eliminating most sanctions and freeing Iranian assets, the nuke deal provides money and protection for the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism to attack our allies. And Iran’s liberation gave Putin the Muslim ground troops he needs,” Goodwin further notes it was the deal with Iran that put Putin’s Syrian plan into action.

There are two ways to go through life. You can either exert a measure of control over the vicissitudes of this existence, or be carried along on a current of self-inflicted helplessness. When an individual chooses the latter option, the results may be tragic. When the last remaining outpost of freedom on the planet chooses the same option, they may be cataclysmic.



Jobs Report Reveals More Americans Out of Work

The labor force participation rate is at a 40 year low

The jobs report, released the first Friday of every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is one of the most closely watched indicators of how the economy is doing. The report collects a wide variety of statistics on employment and labor utilization, in an attempt to paint an overall picture of the American labor market. Over the few months, the Obama administration has been pleased with the numbers, with the official unemployment rate ticking down consistently, albeit at a glacial pace.

Last Friday’s report, by contrast, offered no good news. In fact, there was nothing even spinnable into kinda-sorta good news. The economy is stagnant, and the numbers reflect that. The official unemployment rate, which represents Americans looking for jobs but unable to find them, remained unchanged, which may not seem like bad news on the surface, but when placed in context it becomes clear how troubling this actually is.

The really important number we need to look at is the labor force participation rate. This determines how many people are considered “workers.” When people drop out of the labor force,they are no longer considered unemployed, even though they don’t have jobs. This means that we can see a situation where the official unemployment rate is dropping, but the actual number of jobless Americans is rising, since they are merely giving up on trying to find a job.

For this reason, the unemployment rate always has to be evaluated together with the labor force participation rate; it’s the only way to get a true sense of what is going on in the labor market. On Friday, the labor force participation rate dropped to 62.4 percent, which is the lowest it has been since October of 1977.

With an unchanged unemployment rate, but dropping labor force participation, joblessness is worsening in the U.S. After seven years of stimulus and quantitative easing, the labor market is still down in the dumps. It’s time to admit that Obamanomics isn’t working and start implementing some pro-growth reforms to get people working again. ObamaCare, the minimum wage, regulations on small business, licensing requirements, and high taxes are all conspiring to prevent people from working.Removing some or all of these barriers to the labor market would jumpstart the economy and get people back into the labor force.

Only by producing more can we create more wealth, and with the highest proportion of Americans in forty years sitting on the sidelines, the economy will continue to stagnate.



Actor James Woods: 'I Was Right That Obama Would Ignore Christian Hate Crime Element of Oregon Massacre'

On October 5 actor James Woods sent out a tweet criticizing President Obama over the president's reaction - or what Woods sees as a non-reaction - to the recent mass shooting in Oregon.

On October 1 Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people and took his own life at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Witnesses have reported that Harper-Mercer specifically targeted Christians for death.

Woods's tweet reads: "Three days ago I predicted that President Obama would ignore the Christian hate crime element of the Oregon massacre. I am sad to be right."
On October 2 Woods predicted that if the Oregon gunman had killed people for their Christian beliefs then the media and President Obama would avoid the topic.

In the wake of the massacre President Obama has called for a discussion on gun control. He is also planning to meet with the families of the victims.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

For German Jews, Maybe It Really Is 1936 All Over Again

An entirely predictable result of Frau Merkel's foolishness

This can’t be good:

    “I had five years of civil war in Syria, but the journey here was more dangerous,” said Hadiya Suleiman, a 45-year-old mother of five from Deir ez-Zur in eastern Syria, where ISIS killed her 18-year-old son. “Here, I feel for the first time like a human being. We thank our mother, ‘Mama Merkel.’”

    But many Jews are watching the wave of migrants flocking to Germany with some measure of alarm, concerned with what a massive influx of Arabs could mean for Germany’s Jews and the country’s relationship with Israel. “This is not yet France, this is not yet London,” said one Israeli who has lived in Berlin for about 10 years and asked not to be identified. “Yet,” he added pointedly. “There are so many people here and the state is not able to help them,” Monika Chmielewska-Pape told JTA last week. “The situation is very hard for refugees here. If we don’t help them, the people stay on the street.”

    But Chmielewska-Pape said she is not typical of Germany’s Jews. Most, she said, are anxious about the migrants, fearful of the consequences of a massive influx of Arabs into Germany. Chmielewska-Pape said her own decision to help the migrants did not come easily, and she keeps her Jewish identity to herself — including from the left-wing Germans who volunteer alongside her and whom Chmielewska-Pape said are not sympathetic toward Israel or the Jews. The irony of refugees fleeing through Europe to the relative safe haven of Germany is not lost on anyone here. Seventy-five years ago Jews were the refugees, trying to flee a genocidal German chancellor whose name became synonymous with evil. Few countries were willing to accept Jewish refugees; most were turned back and perished at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis.

If you can’t tell the difference between the plight of the Jews under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party,and the invasion of Christendom by “migrants” from the Islamic ummah, you have a major cognitive dysfunction.

    But many Jews here believe that Germany’s atonement for its past is coming at Jewish expense. They’re worried that the influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslims will turn Germany into a place hostile to Jewish concerns and to Israel – and that along with the migrants there are terrorist infiltrators who will try to realize their dreams of jihad on German soil.

Meanwhile, the main reason the childless Ossi, Merkel, is importing Arabs is the elephant in the room: German women simply refuse to have children:

    History isn’t the only reason Merkel is welcoming the migrants. With negative population growth, Germany needs more people to help sustain its economy, the strongest in Europe. At its current birth rate of 1.38 children per woman, the lowest in the world, Germany’s population will shrink by some 20 percent over the next 45 years. An influx of immigrants could offset the shrinking workforce.

This won’t end well.



All mass shooters are white males, right?

All you hear from the leftist media and liberals is how all mass shooters are white males. The corrupt media is even trying to make Chris Harper-Mercer out to be a ‘white-supremacist’ despite the fact he is as black as Obama. So is true, aside from Oregon that all mass shootings are done by white-male? Eh, not really. The media and the left has selective memories when it comes to mass shootings in America.

Virginia Tech shooting seems like so long ago. Despite happening 2007 the left has memory loss at who the perpetrator was. His name was Seung-Hui Cho and he isn’t exactly a white male. Last I checked, Seung-Hui Cho is South Korean. Maybe the left is confused because of the South in Korea. Maybe they think it’s some white guy from the American south instead.

Five years before the Virginia Tech shootings we had Beltway Sniper attacks. One of the attackers was named John Allen Muhammad. Not exactly an American sounding name. John Allen Muhammad was a black Muslim.

Then we have Christopher Dorner. The name may sound white, but he was blacker than Obama. Dorner killed killed four people on a racist rampage back in 2013 in California. I know, two years ago is hard to remember for liberals. It’s like, that was two years ago dude!

Shall I go on? Ok.. I will..

Anyone remember Nidal Malik Hasan? A Muslim terrorist who killed 13 people in a mass shooting at Fort Hood in 2009. This is where Obama tries to protect his Muslim buddies, and refuses to declare the case an act of terrorism. Instead, Nidal Malik Hasan’s rampage killing 13 people is called ‘workplace violence.’ Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mass shooting, not done by whitey.

Aaron Alexis – a black ‘man’ killed 12 people in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Aaron Alexis was cited on at least eight occasions for misconduct during his time in the Navy. I guess back in 2013, he decided to try to get revenge on all those evil white people in the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

And finally we have Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Memory loss is no excuse for this Muslim terrorist as he killed six (including himself) on a jihad rampage for Allah. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez targeted military installations, not a mosque or some little halal cafe in Chattanooga. [He opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and wounding three other people before he was killed] Not exactly Mr. White either.

I could go back further, but the fact leftists don’t remember (or chose not to) these mass shootings might confuse them. In non of these mass shooting cases would more gun control have worked, same as those done by the white boys.

There’s no racial pattern to mass shootings either. They aren’t all done by whites, blacks, Muslims or Asians. No matter how hard the media tries blame one race over another, they just fall flat on their face. It’s another reason why no one trusts them anymore.



Is an unseen enemy taking its toll against ISIS?

Indications are there is and, as such, it is having a devastating impact upon ISIS. In fact, it may well be wreaking much more havoc among ISIS than are U.S. air strikes against the terrorist group. ISIS finds itself fighting an enemy it is hard-pressed to defeat. That enemy is AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Before addressing the medical issue ISIS now faces, an historical perspective is needed to explain how ISIS got into this deadly situation.

Some 1400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad began preaching his religion to uneducated Bedouins. For people struggling to survive in a harsh environment and lacking much spiritual motivation, selling them on Islam was, initially at least, challenging for Muhammad. That changed as the Prophet sought to appeal to man's basic instincts.

What better way to gain followers from among the uneducated than to convince them a god exists whom, if they become believers, will sanction sinful acts they undertake against non-believers, allowing them to gain wealth-not by their own toil-but by taking it from others. And, to further sweeten the pot, Muhammad threw in for the victors the sexual benefit of being able to claim the wives of vanquished non-believers as sex slaves.

Muhammad proclaimed such acts-normally considered sinful-were not sinful as believers were simply fulfilling Islam's mandate non-believers convert or die. By playing to their lust and greed, Mohammad brought in followers by the thousands. With their actions no longer limited by a moral compass, their barbarity towards sanctioned victims proved limitless.

Nowhere has this perception of Islam's sanctioned brutality been more obvious than with ISIS which is committed to imposing its brand of Islam upon the entire world. We have borne witness to their limitless brutality-whether it is beheading sanctioned victims, burning them alive or detonating explosive devices attached to newborns as a demonstration to their followers of such bomb's effectiveness.

Prophet Muhammad recognized early on in his marketing endeavors with Islam "sex sells." It was an important recognition for getting prospective recruits to think less with what was above their neck and more with what was below it.

He also knew he had to package it in a way that would motivate followers' willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for Islam on the battlefield. He had to free his fighters of the marital love bonds that might otherwise tie them down and make them less willing to die for Islam. He had to promise them something that would make this life pale in comparison to what awaited them in the next.

Muhammad accomplished this as part of a three-step process.

First, in his teachings he made clear the role of Muslim women was secondary to that of Muslim men-who were free to take more than one wife. The wife's role would always be subservient to the husband's. He was her master and she had to obey.  Her obedience included a duty never to deny him his sexual desires. If she did, he had the right to rape or otherwise discipline her.

Muhammad's focus here was to meet his warriors' sexual needs while weakening the normally strong loving bond formed in a one husband-one wife marital relationship. He sought to achieve this by de-valuing a women's worth in this life and, to reduce a single wife's loving influence, by allowing husbands to have several.

Second, Muhammad realized his male followers were in need of sexual gratification "on the road." Spreading Islam meant traveling far and wide to do so. Taking the warrior away from the home meant providing for his sexual desires away from it as well. Thus, Muhammad taught that Allah sanctioned taking captive as sex slaves infidel women. Such women were simply chattel acquired as the spoils of war.

Third, having de-valued the role of women and addressed the warrior's sexual needs both at and away from home, Muhammad now sought to instill in his fighters the ultimate motivation to make them fearless. While the material rewards a victorious Muslim warrior gained were extensive, Muhammad revealed an even greater reward awaited he who dies in battle trying to attain those material rewards.

Muhammad promised the reward of an afterlife that was a sexual Paradise. As he, and many subsequent Islamic scholars have attested, 72 non-menstruating, non-urinating, non-defecating, full-breasted, beautiful, young, non-child bearing, "eternal" (recycled) virgins await them there. These virgins will sing a man's praises for all eternity and never be dissatisfied with him.

Thus, Muhammad painted a picture for his followers of a present life blessed with the material rewards gained from battlefield victories and an afterlife of eternal sexual pleasures should one die trying to be victorious. For those who bought into it, there was nothing to lose.

These beliefs have been handed down to the followers of Islam for 70 generations. These same sexual rewards promised in both this life and the next have become an important recruiting tool for ISIS today.

But AIDS is an enemy that did not exist in Muhammad's day. It is an enemy that mostly uneducated ISIS followers, engaging in numerous sexual acts with an unlimited stable of victims, were eventually bound to confront.

Reputable sources such as the Daily Mail and have reported ISIS now suffers from a full-blown epidemic of AIDS-a disease linked to promiscuous sex with an infected partner, the sharing of infected drug needles and gay sex. As the latter two are forbidden by Islam, it is interesting the disease is as prevalent as it is. The above sources report the problem may well have begun when an Indonesian ISIS member who knew he had AIDS gave blood to his fellow fighters-for which he was later executed. But, once the disease took root, all three sources above (despite these taboos under Islam) may well have contributed to it spreading like wildfire within such a rape culture.

When a captive slave is raped by one AIDS carrier who then sells her to another fighter, the disease infects all within the rape chain. Efforts are being made to equip hospitals within ISIS territory with the capability to treat AIDS/SDT patients. One such facility is said to exist in Almayadeen City, Iraq. But clearly, the non-existence of an adequate medical infrastructure to provide skilled treatment is unavailable. As a consequence, those suffering the most are the rape victims who became conduits for spreading these diseases. Such victims are either left to suffer without medical attention or are put to death as they have lost their value to ISIS.

Involuntary homosexual activity marks yet another dark side of ISIS. One ISIS prince, "Abu Ala'," reportedly issued a fatwa allowing him to marry and sodomize male recruits but disallowing any man the reciprocity to so sodomize him.

As an August 27, 2015 Kurdish television documentary details, ISIS engages in the practice of raping all new male recruits in a ceremony described as "marriage"-with the act videotaped to later blackmail them should they prove reluctant to participate in ISIS operations. The documentary is based on the testimony of numerous ISIS members captured by the Kurds and includes some of the ISIS rape tapes.

One such recruit, Ahmed Hussain, described on camera how he was abducted, drugged, tortured, and gang-raped-forced into marriage fifteen times. He said afterward, "they washed my head and put cologne on me. They told me no one could join ISIL without being married."

It is most fitting that ISIS-a group whose appeal has been built upon its rape culture-now appears to be paying the price for doing so. An unseen enemy is making their passage to the afterlife an excruciatingly painful one.

As far as seeking an ISIS cure, while tragic for the innocent victims affected, AIDS may prove to be just what the doctor ordered.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Justice and the Obama Justice Department

This is a long article but the subject is a big and important one -- JR

If you think about it, it makes sense that in America—the only nation in the world to define itself not by blood or land, but by a law, the Constitution—the government agency charged with enforcing that law, and enforcing the laws passed under it, would be called the Department of Justice. As such, the work of the Justice Department is highly important. It plays a fundamental role in our nation’s life, because its work has to do in one way or another with how honest, how fair, and how safe our country is.

That being said, I’m regretful to have to add that in a country where honesty, fairness, and safety are so strongly influenced by one department of government, over the past six years—largely because of that department’s work—our country has grown less honest, less fair, and less safe than it ought to be. Let me give you some examples.

Recently we hear a great deal about the prosecution of “evildoing” corporations, but not so much about the prosecution of individuals who are the alleged evildoers. Why is that? To be specific, a lot of what we hear with respect to corporations is not about prosecutions at all—it’s about “deferred-prosecution agreements” or “non-prosecution agreements,” agreements that extract enormous financial penalties. Indeed, the current Justice Department takes pride in setting record after record in terms of collecting these penalties.

Other attorneys general, myself included, made such agreements. But the penalties that have been extracted over the past six years are unprecedented. They involve numbers in the billions, and are of a scale that makes it appear that the Justice Department is acting as a profit center for the government.

Justice Department investigations begin by looking into claims, for example, of unlawful payments to foreign officials or of unsafe motor vehicles. Corporations often face disastrous collateral consequences simply from having charges brought against them, which is why they are often willing to admit to conduct that the government cannot prove, to pay enormous fines, and to accept the oversight of monitors. In return, the government agrees that no charges will be filed so long as the corporations remain on good behavior for some specified period of time. Charges are rarely brought against individuals, on the other hand, because individuals can be put in jail. When faced with this, people usually fight back—and when they fight back, they frequently win.

This process generates cynicism about the American justice system, as individuals go uncharged, billion-dollar penalties are assessed, and the ones who pay are not wrongdoers, but corporate shareholders and employees.

* * *

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is the one we think of as having the main responsibility for protecting fairness. Yet its recent record has indicated other priorities. Recently its Voting Section went out of its way to review a decision to change the system of municipal elections in Kinston, North Carolina, from partisan to non-partisan. That change had been approved by the voters of Kinston, which is a majority black town. Indeed, it had been approved by an overwhelming two-to-one vote.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department may intervene when voting rules are changed in any state where there’s historically been discrimination. But because black citizens were in the majority in Kinston, there should have been no occasion to intervene. The DOJ justified its intervention by saying that blacks were not always a majority of voters, even though they were a majority of the citizens; it argued further that the removing of party labels might deprive black voters of an identifying label necessary for them to vote for black candidates—i.e., the label “Democrat.” In other words, the Justice Department was arguing that the black voters of Kinston needed the paternalism of the Justice Department to protect them from themselves.

Fairness and safety are sometimes related to one another. During the 2008 election, two members of the New Black Panther Party showed up at a polling place in Philadelphia dressed in black battle fatigues, one of them brandishing a nightstick and the other yelling at white voters that they would soon be ruled by a black man. The scene was described in an affidavit by a poll watcher—a veteran civil rights activist who had often supported Democratic candidates—as something he had never seen or heard of in his 40 years of political involvement.

In the waning days of the Bush administration, the DOJ’s Voting Section filed a lawsuit and won a default judgment. But in the spring of 2009, after the Obama administration took over, those handling the case were directed to drop it. The only penalty left in place was a limited injunction that barred the person with the nightstick from repeating that conduct for a period of time in Philadelphia. And when the Office of Professional Responsibility looked into the matter, their finding criticized the bringing of the case more than the dropping of it.

Contrast that response with the DOJ’s treatment of a 79-year-old protestor outside an abortion clinic who was sued by the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section for praying outside the clinic and urging entrants to reconsider abortion. When that protestor was pepper sprayed by an abortion supporter for exercising his First Amendment rights, the Criminal Section did nothing.

Consider as well the 2012 case of Trayvon Martin, a young man who was shot in an encounter with a neighborhood watch member. Notwithstanding that the shooter was not a member of any police department, and that he was acquitted of criminal responsibility in the incident—nevertheless, in the wake of the case the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division zeroed in on the police department of Sanford, Florida, where the incident occurred, suggesting discriminatory policing. A similar pattern—whereby a confrontation between a police officer and an African-American is followed by a Justice Department proceeding against the jurisdiction, regardless of the legal outcome or the equities of the incident—has been followed in cities such as Baltimore, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri.

State and local jurisdictions do not have the resources or the political will to fight the federal government. As a result, more than 20 cities are now operating under consent decrees secured by the Justice Department, with court-appointed monitors imposing restrictive standards on police officers who now think twice before they stop suspects or make arrests. The results are predictable. Shootings are on the rise in New York, as are quality-of-life crimes that create a sense of public disorder and social deterioration. Seattle is also a good example: a federal lawsuit and a court-appointed monitor followed on the heels of a publicized incident, and now homicides are up 25 percent, car theft is up 44 percent, and aggravated assault is up 14 percent.

One lesson to draw from all this is that personnel is policy. If you examine the resum├ęs of people hired into the DOJ beginning in 2009, you will find that the governing credential of new hires was a history of support for left-leaning causes or membership in leftist organizations. By the time of the 2012 election, it was considered unremarkable for DOJ lawyers to display political posters on their office walls, and even outside their offices—something inimical to the spirit and mission of the Department of Justice.

* * *

When it comes to defending against terrorism, one would think that the role of the Justice Department would be relatively limited compared to that of the military and of our intelligence gathering agencies. But for six years the DOJ has played an outsized and unhelpful role. This results, in part, from a policy set by the current administration of viewing terrorism as it was viewed before 9/11—as a crime to be prosecuted rather than an act of war to be combatted.

This administration is also unwilling to draw any connection between radical Islam and terrorism. Just in the last few days, it has been reported that officials are trying to determine a motive for the conduct of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who is accused of killing five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga. He had travelled to Jordan and posted admiring statements about ISIS on his web page, and yet officials are puzzling over why he acted as he did. The DOJ refuses to use the word terrorism in relation to this investigation.

A man named Ali Muhammad Brown is charged with three counts of murder in Seattle, allegedly motivated by his desire to avenge attacks on Muslims by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also been prosecuted in the state courts of New Jersey on state terrorism charges—the first time such charges have ever been filed in New Jersey’s history. The charges there are based on a fourth murder that he committed—the murder of a teenager named Brendan Tevlin that had the same motivation as the Seattle murders. The maximum for this crime under the New Jersey statute is life imprisonment, whereas the federal statute carries the death penalty. But the Justice Department has declined to bring this prosecution. It’s utterly beyond understanding why the DOJ would yield to a state charge with a lesser penalty—unless, of course, one realizes that it would simply prefer not to discuss the matter.

This aversion goes further, and it has further effect. In 2009, Khalid Sheik Muhammad and others were to be tried before a military commission at Guantanamo for their roles in the 9/11 attacks. The defendants had announced their intention to plead guilty and proceed to martyrdom. Notwithstanding that these detainees were in the custody of the military and the Department of Defense, the Attorney General, with the President’s cooperation, suspended the trials and announced in 2010 that he would bring those defendants to Manhattan, near where the World Trade Center attack had occurred, to stand trial in a civilian court.

This plan caused a bipartisan furor. Congress went so far as to pass a statute barring the use of any federal funds to bring detainees from Guantanamo to the U.S. As a result, the plan was cancelled in 2011. But by that time the military commission had been aborted and the prosecution had to be recommenced from scratch. In addition, Khalid Sheik Muhammad and his friends got the message that the new administration’s heart wasn’t in it. They took to resisting every step in the process, which is still in the pre-trial stage.

Also in 2009, the Attorney General, following up on his stated belief that the CIA had violated the torture statute in the interrogation of captured terrorists, publicly disclosed what had been classified memos describing the CIA’s interrogation program—a program that had not been in use since 2003. He presumably released those memos in the belief that disclosure would bring on a firestorm of criticism. The effect was to disclose to potential terrorists what was in the program so they could train to resist it, just as they train using the publicly available Army Field Manual in order to resist interrogations described in it. When the hoped-for firestorm failed to develop, the Attorney General announced that even though prior investigations of CIA conduct by career DOJ prosecutors had concluded that there was not enough evidence to justify criminal prosecution, he was going to re-open those cases. He did so without bothering to read the detailed memos by those previous prosecutors explaining why no criminal charges were warranted. You can imagine the effect on the morale of the CIA.

The re-opened investigations yielded no criminal charges, and the result was announced two years later as part of a news dump on a Friday afternoon. We currently have no interrogation program in place beyond the Army Field Manual, and in any case current policy seems to favor prosecution over capturing terrorists abroad for interrogation. This is due in part to the efforts of the DOJ, and our ability to gather intelligence is correspondingly limited.

Defenders of current policy trumpet electronic intelligence. But electronic intelligence comes in bits and pieces, and it’s very difficult to know which bits and pieces are relevant and which are simply noise. As former CIA Director Michael Hayden once put it, it’s kind of like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle when you have thousands of pieces, you don’t know which ones are part of the puzzle, and you haven’t been able to look at the picture on the box. Human intelligence, by contrast, comes in narrative form—which is to say you get to look at the picture.

The Obama administration also supported the recent restriction that was put on bulk intelligence gathering by the CIA, in the mistaken belief that such a policy compromised Americans’ privacy. In point of fact, the only information gathered was the calling number, the called number, the length of the call, and its date. That information was saved, and when we got a suspicious telephone number—for example, the number of the Chattanooga terrorist—we could take it and figure out which numbers had called that number and which numbers had been called by it. As a result of the recent restriction, we are not going to have that information anymore. It is going to be kept by the carriers, if they agree to keep it.

Are there any bright spots in the Justice Department? The National Security Division, which handles oversight of electronic intelligence on applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, is the newest division in the department. Formed in 2006, it is staffed by people who are dedicated to protecting the country, and it continues to function very well insofar as the legislation that is now in place allows it to function. Otherwise, there is very little good to report.

* * *

How did we get to where we are today? Even before the 2008 election, the warning signs were there. The man who was to become U.S. Attorney General told an audience during the election campaign that the Bush administration had permitted abuses in fighting terrorism. He said there would have to be “a reckoning.” During his subsequent tenure, in a moment of unguarded candor, he described himself as the President’s “wingman.” From the standpoint of the Justice Department, I can’t overstate the demoralizing significance of an attorney general saying something like that. If I had ever described myself, during my tenure, as President Bush’s wingman, I would have expected to come back to find the Justice Department building empty and a pile of resignations on my desk. Even Attorney General Robert Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother, to my knowledge never described himself in such terms. Yes, the attorney general is a member of the administration—but his principal responsibility is to provide neutral advice on what the law requires, not to fly in political formation.

The problems in the DOJ won’t be solved simply by electing a less ideological president in 2016. Many of the political appointees of the past seven years will resign and take up career positions within the department, and once such people receive civil service status, it is virtually impossible to fire them. In other words, the next attorney general will be confronted with a department that’s prepared to resist policy changes. This will require great patience and dedication by the new political appointees in their efforts to return the department to its true mandate—not doing justice according to your own lights, or even according to the lights of the president who appoints you, but defending law and having enough faith in law to believe that the result, more often than not, will be justice.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, October 05, 2015

Leftist irrationality

Conservatives are well-used to Leftist irrationality.  If you present a Leftist with some fact that undermines one of his claims, you will get not cool reflection or rational debate but rather rage, abuse and avoidance.  In a face to face situation, the Leftist will actually walk away from you.  So it is clear that, with Leftists, we are dealing with emotions not reason.  They can write whole articles about (say) socialism without for one moment considering the facts about the practical impacts of socialism.

And those of us who can remember it remain quite astounded at the ecstasy among Leftists when Obama won his first Presidential election.  Winning an election is cause for celebration for anyone but the Left really seemed to lose all touch with reality. They really seemed to believe  that Obama's win signalled the time when "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".  Not since King Canute has such a claim been made in politics and even Canute was more level-headed than that. Commentators spoke of "Obamania" and the "Obamessiah".

So we don't really need anyone to tell us that the Left are more emotional than conservatives but it is nice to see it confirmed in a careful set of psychological experiments and surveys.  The abstract below:

Are Leftists More Emotion-Driven Than Rightists? The Interactive Influence of Ideology and Emotions on Support for Policies

By Ruthie Pliskin et al.


Although emotions and ideology are important factors guiding policy support in conflict, their interactive influence remains unclear. Based on prior findings that ideological leftists’ beliefs are more susceptible to change than rightists’ beliefs, we tested a somewhat counterintuitive extension that leftists would be more susceptible to influence by their emotional reactions than rightists. In three laboratory studies, inducing positive and negative emotions affected Jewish–Israeli leftists’, but not rightists’, support for conciliatory policies toward an adversarial (Studies 1 and 3) and a non-adversarial (Study 2) outgroup. Three additional field studies showed that positive and negative emotions were related to leftists’, but not rightists’, policy support in positive as well as highly negative conflict-related contexts, among both Jewish (Studies 4 and 5) and Palestinian (Study 6) citizens of Israel. Across different conflicts, emotions, conflict-related contexts, and even populations, leftists’ policy support changed in accordance with emotional reactions more than rightists’ policy support.


A more detailed summary HERE

The authors looked at emotion generally but I have always argued that anger/rage/hate is the dominant emotion among Leftists.  The authors above added in anger to their study more or less as an afterthought but did find that anger was a particularly powerful motivator among Leftists.


California Labor Union That Fought for $15 Minimum Wage Now Wants an Exemption

The labor union that led the charge for a $15 minimum wage hike in cities across California is now moving to secure an exemption for employers under union contracts.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor buried the exemption on the eighth page of its 12-page proposal for the Santa Monica City Council to review Tuesday while deciding whether to follow Los Angeles and increase the minimum wage.

The loophole would allow employers with collective bargaining agreements to sidestep the wage hike and pay their union members below the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.

James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, said the exemption is a union attempt to encourage businesses to unionize by making themselves the only low-wage option as union membership continues to drop off.

“This proposal would force any worker in Santa Monica whose labor is worth less than $15 an hour to purchase union representation in order to hold a job,” Sherk said. “Unions should not be able to selectively exempt themselves from the harmful consequences of the minimum wage hikes they lobby for.”

The move in Santa Monica is not the federation of labor’s first attempt to compound a collective bargaining exemption into a minimum wage increase.

The federation received an outpouring of criticism when it attempted to push the same carve-out for unionized employers after Los Angeles decided to increase its minimum wage from $9 to $15.

“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in a blistering editorial. “It plays into the cynical view that the federation is more interested in unionizing companies and boosting its rolls of dues-paying members than in helping poor workers.”

Rusty Hicks, the head of the federation, released a statement in May saying that businesses and employees under collective bargaining agreements should have the ability to negotiate a wage below the law’s mandated minimum in exchange for other benefits.

“This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing,” Hicks said.

Hicks told the Los Angeles City Council to thwart the measure’s passage unless the exemption was included, but he ultimately lost the battle after receiving significant backlash for the request.

In Santa Monica, where council members ordered a rewrite of the minimum wage proposal Tuesday night, the exemption stirred no controversy among members. Council members told a local paper the exemption would remain in the final minimum wage proposal.



Labor unions awarded millions from federal agencies

Under President Obama, federal agencies are doling out tens of millions of dollars to one of the Democratic Party’s most essential constituencies: big labor.

The grants range from safety training to union membership recruitment to whipping up support for the president’s signature program called Obamacare, a Washington Times review of federal contracting records shows.

Last week, for example, the Department of Energy awarded a $900,000-plus grant for the development of a safety regimen for workers facing hazardous duties in energy and waste jobs. It didn’t go to a safety firm or training school but rather to a labor union: Akron International Chemical Workers Union. And the local Democratic congressman in Ohio got to score some political points with his blue-collar constituents by announcing it.

“It’s clearly an insight into how this president and his administration have used taxpayer funds to accomplish political purposes,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. “Congress needs to look at this, and dig out these grants specifically given to unions and eliminate them.”

(Corrected paragraph:) In President George W. Bush’s tenure, the federal government awarded about $29 million in grants to two of the largest groups representing big labor, the AFL-CIO and SEIU. In contrast, Mr. Obama has thus far awarded at least $53 million to these two groups — 83 percent more than Mr. Bush’s entire tenure.

“I’m utterly unsurprised federal grant-making to unions has increased under Obama. This administration has a way of rewarding their friends and harming their enemies,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.

Two years ago, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO was awarded $593,956 by the Department of Heath and Human Services to go door to door and use social media to recruit low-income Latinos to sign up for the president’s signature health care law. The local San Jose chapter of the SEIU was given $1 million to do the same thing but to focus on uninsured Asians and Pacific Islanders within their union. Its Los Angeles branch was given $500,000 to target multiracial populations speaking Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Laotian, Cambodian, Hmong and Vietnamese.

Last year the Illinois affiliate of the AFL-CIO was awarded $400,000 for outreach to “promote best practices in response to plant closings and mass layoffs” within the state by the Department of Labor. And, since 2011, the Idaho affiliate has been given more than $300,000 to monitor pending or actual closures of plants and potential affected employees and “assist in the collection of information regarding specific groups of dislocated workers.”

Mr. Manning said grants given to unions to bolster Obamacare enrollment or to further recruitment in their own ranks should be first on the list.

“Some of these grants are just so obviously political — this administration has utilized that capacity to its fullest,” he said.

Mr. Obama, who is ideologically in line with collective bargaining and big labor ideals, has used his tenure to appoint like-minded individuals to the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, among other federal agency posts, who in turn use their positions to give grants and push pro-labor initiatives.

“The biggest single thing the president has done is make labor-friendly appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and various positions within the Department of Labor,” said Ruth Milkman, a City University of New York sociologist specializing in labor issues. “The president has revived a long historical tradition of appointing people to these positions who are supportive of labor relations. Under Reagan and Bush, there were people who didn’t believe in collective bargaining in those positions, which made it difficult to pass initiatives that benefit ordinary workers.”

Mr. Holtz-Eakin agrees the biggest change benefiting labor has been through presidential appointments. Mr. Obama has pushed the NLRB so far left, negotiations are now made at “the five-yard line,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said.

Most recently the NLRB ruled a contractor can be liable for the labor violations of a subcontractor, reversing decades of precedent at the board and infuriating free market conservatives and business.

In addition to making pro-labor appointments within the federal government, Mr. Obama has used executive actions to push union-supported positions, such as making more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay, requiring federal contractors to provide paid leave and using project labor agreements — which gives unions monopoly bargaining power for all workers, not just unionized ones — for federal construction projects.



Jindal calls for return to Judeo-Christian heritage

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal opened his Believe Again town hall meeting with a prayer for the victims of the shooting at an Oregon community college and a Manchester school bus rollover.

“Today is a pretty tough day if you’ve been watching the news,” he told about 80 people at the Shores Event Center in northeast Cedar Rapids Thursday.

“We pray for the comfort, the peace only you can bring … and heal broken hearts,” Jindal, head bowed, implored.

That seemed to set the tone for his hourlong remarks and question-and-answer session that ranged from his anger with “surrender Republicans” who won’t seize the opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood to the need to return to the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States.

Jindal, the 44-year-old second-term governor, is angrier with Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, than he is with Democrats, who, he said, are honest about their intentions to move the nation to the left and expand the role of government.

“At least Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist,” he said. “We’ve got conservative who will say one thing when they are running for office and they do another when we actually elect them.

“So our choice in Washington is you’ve got honest socialists or lying conservatives. That’s a heck of a choice,” he said to chuckles.

Jindal called America an “inherently Judeo-Christian nation” where “government didn’t create our rights. Government rather secures our God-given rights.”

He went on to say that part of the Judeo-Christian heritage is “we don’t discriminate against anyone.” America can be a diverse society and defend religious liberty, he said.

Jindal is toiling in the low single digits in polls, but has high favorability rating among Iowa Republicans. His net favorability rating is double Donald Trump’s and puts him in fourth place behind Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. He’s well-positioned for a “moment,” as one campaign aide put it.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Spin-Meister Hibbing does good

John R. Hibbing has been doing research into the underlying differences between liberals and conservatives for a long time.  And Hibbing has a great talent  -- for spin.  Put any set of findings about Left/Right differences in front of him and he can  interpret those finding as showing that liberals are the cool cats and conservatives are the bad eggs.  Leftist psychologists do that routinely, of course and I have been amusing myself "Unspinning" their claims since 1968. And I have been unspinning Hibbing for at least 10 years.  See here and here

But Hibbing seems ultimately to have been educated by his own data and now just takes refuge in jargon rather than spin. And his work is interesting for the type of data he produces.  He tries to examine biological differences directly -- which is in principle less fakeable.  Although it is less fakeable, it is also harder to interpret. So let me look at one of his papers that I don't think I have directly addressed before.  Here is the Abstract:

The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: connecting physiology and cognition to preferences

By Michael D. Dodd, Amanda Balzer, Carly M. Jacobs, Michael W. Gruszczynski, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Hibbing


We report evidence that individual-level variation in people's physiological and attentional responses to aversive and appetitive stimuli are correlated with broad political orientations. Specifically, we find that greater orientation to aversive stimuli tends to be associated with right-of-centre and greater orientation to appetitive (pleasing) stimuli with left-of-centre political inclinations. These findings are consistent with recent evidence that political views are connected to physiological predispositions but are unique in incorporating findings on variation in directed attention that make it possible to understand additional aspects of the link between the physiological and the political.


A more detailed summary HERE

And later in the paper Hibbing becomes very humble indeed. We read:  "It may be that those on the political left are more out of step with adaptive behaviours".  He rightly sees caution as adaptive.

In any case, the findings are perfectly well interpretable as showing that Leftists avoid unpleasant thoughts and that conservatives are more cautious about possible threats and dangers.  Hibbing's obfuscatory version of that is that conservatives have  "greater orientation to aversive stimuli".  But since conservatism has been associated with caution for a couple of hundred years, "caution" is clearly a more informative and well-grounded word to describe conservatism than  is "oriented to aversive stimuli".  In some contexts "conservative" is even used as a synonym for caution.

And the bit about Leftists avoiding unpleasant thoughts is also familiar.  Leftists in fact tend to live in a cloud cuckoo land of their own (with apologies to Aristophanes) where all thoughts jarring to their beliefs are zealously kept out.  And they most rigorously avoid any thoughts about possible bad impacts that their policies might have.  Ever since the French Revolution there have been mountains of evidence about what beliefs in "all men are equal" lead to but no Leftist seems to have heard of any of it.  Too unpleasant!  Much nicer to dwell on feelings that Leftists are all heart.

In fact, given the anger that drives their policies, they probably NEED to seek out pleasant thoughts to cool themselves down.

So Hibbing's findings do confirm some basic truths -- after you get past the jargon.

Some critics (e.g. here) on both the Left and Right have criticized Hibbing on the grounds that it is the Left, not the Right, who are cautious about global warming.  How does that fit in?  Easy peasy:  Conservatives are only concerned about real threats and real dangers.  And most conservatives can see the threat of dangerous global warming for the transparent hokum that it is.  They can see that it is a made-up threat, not a real one.  For liberals on the other hand, global warming is a most pleasant fantasy.  It enables them to see themselves as "saving the planet".  How heroic can you get?  A saviour of the planet!  Beat that!

Hibbing was right -- JR


The Hungarians have got balls

They have very rapidly erected effective border controls to stop the Muslim invasion.  An obvious lesson if an American government wanted to control its borders

From the back garden of Istvan Molnar's home, you can see Hungary's newly erected 'Iron Curtain' in the distance.

The razor-wire fence has become a defining symbol of the migrant crisis. The barricade — 4m high and constructed in six weeks on the back of prison labour — runs the length of the country's 110-mile border with Serbia.

The Berlin Wall, by comparison, was 96 miles long. This hinterland between Hungary and the Balkans was once the main entry point to the European Union for the diaspora pouring out of the Middle East.

Today, on the Hungarian side, waiting for anyone who breaches the barricade, are squads of police reinforced by SWAT teams from Hungary's elite Counter Terrorism Centre (TEC).

The role of these officers, in black commando uniforms, is to 'capture persons that pose a danger for themselves and the public' — a mission statement that leaves little doubt about the way Budapest views the wave of asylum seekers we have all seen on the TV news.

Tear gas, pepper spray and water canons were used against them after they attempted to break through the fence — not far from Mr Molnar's house in the village of Roszke — on the morning it went up on September 15.

The day before, a record 9,380 migrants were rounded up on Hungary's Serbian border after crossing the frontier and put on trains to Austria; the day after, the number had slumped to just 366.

Now, little more than a fortnight after the 'Iron Curtain' sprung up in a field outside Istvan Molnar's house, provoking international condemnation, village life is returning to normal in Roszke (pop: around 3,000) after months of near-chaos.

Migrants, sometimes hundreds at a time, no longer pass Mr Molnar's window at all hours of the day and night. The people smugglers have moved on. The reception camp, where migrants were processed, is empty.

'There is no one to process at the moment,' the police officer manning the gate of the compound told us, shrugging his shoulders. Men, women and children who turn up in Roszke, and elsewhere on the Hungarian/Serbian border, are simply being turned away despite criticism from Germany and other EU partners.

Hungary's response? Another razor-wire barrier is in the process of being built on the border with Croatia. The strategy is trumpeted in giant government posters on roadsides and roundabouts. 'The country must be defended,' they read.

Mr Molnar, 61, a gardener, and his wife Irenke, 57, gave water and blankets to the migrants, but, like almost everyone else here, they approve of the crackdown. The couple voted for the man who is behind it, prime minister Viktor Orban. 'I think the police should certainly be allowed to use force where necessary to stop people coming through,' said Mr Molnar.

There is another, more fundamental, sub-plot to Hungary's brutally effective migrant policy, though.  It is encapsulated in Mr Orban's inflammatory public statements about 'Christian Europe' being under threat. 'If you're being overrun, you can't accept migrants,' he wrote in a German daily newspaper.

'We must not forget that those who are coming in have been brought up under a different religion and represent a profoundly different culture.  'The majority are not Christians but Muslims. That is an important question because Europe and European culture have Christian roots. Is it not already, and in itself, alarming that Europe's Christian culture is barely able to uphold Europe's own Christian values? The people want us to control the situation and protect our borders.'

The Crusader rhetoric conjures up an image of Muslim hordes at the gates of fortress Hungary. Indeed, to understand the psychological forces behind the hatred you need to understand how Christian-Muslim conflict is deeply embedded in the Hungarian DNA just as mutual suspicion and hatred have historically existed between Arab and Jew in the Middle East or Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland.

Mr Orban is both reflecting — and many, would say, exploiting — this primal fear of 'outsiders', especially Muslim outsiders, in Hungary.

The origins of that legacy can be found in Mohacs, a small town on the Danube, near the Croatian border. It was here in 1526 that a heavily outnumbered Hungarian army suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Ottoman invaders under Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Battle of Mohacs was Hungary's equivalent of the Battle of Hastings; one defeat led to the Norman conquest of England, the other to 150 years of Ottoman rule in Hungary.

The battlefield on the outskirts of Mohacs is now a memorial site. An inscription inside proclaims: 'Here began the ruination of a once strong Hungary.'

Mohacs, in fact, marked the end of the old independent Kingdom of Hungary. In the immediate aftermath, Christian churches were converted into mosques, a poll tax was levied on non-Muslims, and Hungarian landlords were dispossessed.

Children in Hungary are taught about this at school, just as British children are taught about 1066. Foreign domination, first by the Ottoman Turks, followed by Austria, then — after World War II — by the Soviet Union, lasted almost five centuries, with Hungary properly emerging only in 1989 as a fully independent republic, following round-table talks which led to the end of communist rule.

Viewed through the prism of history, recent events in Hungary become, if not acceptable, then at least more understandable.

If you take away the razor wire, tear gas and incendiary language, Britain's solution for dealing with the migrant crisis is little different from Hungary's. Both countries argue that creating a quota system will only encourage more new arrivals and both maintain that the emphasis should be on improving conditions in refugee camps in states neighbouring Syria.

Unlike Britain and the rest of Western Europe, however, Hungary and the reborn states of central Europe emerged from the Soviet era more ethnically homogeneous.

Hungary had no immigration during the Soviet era. Borders were effectively sealed. No one, as we well know, was allowed out, or in.

After the Iron Curtain came down, the immigrants that did come were mostly Christian Europeans. Consequently, Hungary was not prepared for the sudden arrival of large numbers of Muslim asylum seekers.

Local people, it is clear, do not want them. This fear has been exacerbated by the racial hatred, religious violence and ethnic cleansing on Hungary's doorstep, unleashed following the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia.

There were atrocities on all sides, setting neighbour against neighbour, Muslim against Christian, in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia. Some took place only miles from Istvan Molnar's home in Roszke on the other side of the new 'Iron Curtain'.

The fears of politicians reflect the fears of the people, and vice-versa.  The politician at the centre of the controversy, of course, is Viktor Orban, who insists that Hungarians have 'the right not to live together with populous Muslim communities'.

One statistic, in particular, has been used to justify the government's hardline position on migrants. The figure is 291,000 — the number of migrants who entered the country illegally this year before the border was fenced off. Of these, 80 per cent were single young men, according to the latest UN data.

The Hungarian authorities have no idea who these people are. They could be potential terrorists or economic migrants. But one thing is for sure, the Hungarians reason: they couldn't have been genuine refugees, otherwise why would they have entered the country illegally?

Mr Orban has described this most recent 'influx' as an invasion. The figure he quotes (291,000) does not include genuine asylum seekers.

Not so long ago, Viktor Orban faced criticism of his increasingly authoritarian style.

Today, however, his popularity is soaring. A recent poll showed around 82 per cent of Hungarians were in favour of tighter immigration controls.

'Brussels is failing to understand just how deeply Hungarians feel about this issue,' said Neil Barnett, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank in London, who lived in Hungary for more than a decade.

'For centuries the Magyars have felt themselves to be the unthanked guardians of European Christendom. However much arching of eyebrows this causes in Brussels, here is a question that threatens to tear Europe apart at the seams.'

Because, for Hungarians, the 'Iron Curtain' is a source of pride, not shame.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Friday, October 02, 2015

A kinder era of politics? Whom are the British Leftist leader and his hate-filled acolytes trying to kid?

How dangerous is Jeremy Corbyn? Needless to say, his ecstatic supporters think he is practically saintly. But even some Tories believe that, though the new leader of the Labour Party is obviously wrong-headed, on the whole he seems quite a decent bloke.

Even I found myself thinking this during parts of Mr Corbyn’s conference speech on Tuesday afternoon when he repeated again and again that all he wanted in life was ‘kinder politics, and a more caring society’. Don’t we all?

He may be economically illiterate — so I reflected as he roamed his way through a number of his pet subjects — but he doesn’t look as though he could hurt a fly, and despite everything his heart appears to be roughly in the right place.

If I have been lulled, even momentarily, into thinking such things, it shows how fantastically successful Mr Corbyn and his allies have been in re-branding themselves as cuddly, consensual and basically harmless. They have embarked on the mother of all con-tricks, and their intended dupes are the electorate.

The central article of faith of the Corbynistas is that the British people hate extremism, and they must therefore do everything they can to airbrush out — or, if absolutely necessary, repudiate — any examples of fanaticism in their past, and to avoid saying or doing anything in the future that might alarm the voters.

Thus John McDonnell, the silver-haired Shadow Chancellor, warned us on Monday morning to expect a very boring speech from him later that day in which he would come across as an old-fashioned bank manager. He was trying to make himself sound as unthreatening as possible.

But Mr McDonnell is an extremist. In 2003, which is not very long ago, he said that it was ‘about time’ we started ‘honouring’ IRA terrorists. He recently apologised if he gave any offence, but actually one can’t disown such statements. He was a 51-year-old man when he said it, not a wide-eyed teenage radical, and he was plainly expressing deeply held views.

In 2010, he publicly admitted that he would like to ‘go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher’. I very much doubt that this was intended as a joke, but even if it was, it carried with it something nasty and unpleasant and fundamentally undemocratic.

As for Mr Corbyn, however light-hearted and mild-mannered his performance was on Tuesday, he has spent too much time with men of violence for it to be written off as an accident. One of his first acts as an MP was to invite Gerry Adams, then president of the IRA’s political wing, to the House of Commons in 1984, a fortnight after the terrorist organisation had tried to blow up Margaret Thatcher and the rest of the Cabinet, killing five people in the process.

Doesn’t this association (which was continued) with Adams, who had abjured the ballot box, tell us something very important about Mr Corbyn? I would say the same about his hobnobbing with members of Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist organisations committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

It is perfectly legitimate to believe passionately in a united Ireland or a Palestinian State. What is so disturbing about Mr Corbyn is his habitual fraternisation with people who have tried to achieve these outcomes through violent means.

Now he has the effrontery to burble on about kindness and caring, and it may be tempting to take this seemingly gentle and self-deprecating man at face value. Tempting — but very stupid.

Incidentally, his contrivance of gentleness was briefly undermined quite early in the leadership campaign when he was forensically questioned by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel Four News about his ‘friends’ at Hamas. For a moment the easy-going schoolmasterly mask dropped, to be replaced first by testiness and then by rather ugly aggression.

Don’t be taken in by this monumental act: that is my message. Just look at some of the minor players with whom Mr Corbyn has surrounded himself.

Andrew Fisher, his new political adviser, boasted on his website about taking part in what sounds like a student tuition-fee riot in 2010. He wrote: ‘Hundreds of people were enjoying the role reversal of the police being penned in and scared. I felt elated.’

And John Ross, an economics adviser to the new leader, once said, admittedly a long time ago: ‘The ruling class must know they will be killed if they do not allow a takeover by the workers. If we aren’t armed there will be a bloodbath.’ That doesn’t sound very kind and caring to me.

Of course, all this is in the past, and largely deniable as the former hard Left activists strive to fill our ears with honeyed words. The trouble is that, try as they might, they cannot entirely keep the lid on present and future eruptions of hatred and unpleasantness.

Just as Mr Corbyn was limbering up to preach his grotesquely insincere Sermon on the Mount, Unite leader Len McCluskey veered off script, and accused the Tories of being like the Nazis in seeking to reform strike laws. He invoked trade union members forced to wear armbands bearing a red triangle at Dachau concentration camp.

Well, Len is cock-a-hoop at the moment on account of Jeremy’s victory, and so got carried away, and quite forgot the new party line that politics is now supposed to be all about being caring and kind to one another.

Even the normally more sensible Tom Watson, the new Deputy Leader, called yesterday for Labour to kick the ‘nasty Tories down the road’, so that it can regain power in 2020.

I’m afraid that many others will also be forgetful about Mr Corbyn’s strictures. Last Saturday night a mob of class warriors carrying flame torches attacked a specialist cereal cafe in Shoreditch, East London, because they hate middle-class ‘gentrification’.

This put John McDonnell in a ticklish situation when he was interviewed on BBC2’s Newsnight on Monday evening. At least three times between 2010 and 2012 the man who is now Shadow Chancellor called for ‘insurrection’ to ‘bring down’ the Government.

In short, those deranged class warriors in Shoreditch were doing pretty well what he had ordered, but he could hardly cheer them on now. Nor could he criticise his own people, though. So he slid out of the question by saying that violence was ‘counter-productive’, without condemning what they did.

We should never be complacent, but I don’t think the Corbynistas will pull off their grand deception. It may be possible to put their highly discreditable pasts behind them. But they won’t be able to silence intemperate union leaders and unruly street warriors who are itching for a non-Parliamentary fight. Their hard Left supporters will almost certainly press for the de-selection of moderate Labour MPs.

Sometimes Corbyn and McDonnell will be forced to rebuke their wilder and more undisciplined followers for going too far too quickly, but they won’t be able to wash their hands of them, and nor will they want to. In the end, they are extremists cut from the same cloth.

During his speech on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn criticised spin, and represented himself as Mr Straight-as-a-Die. The truth is that in masquerading as kind and gentle and open to a new sort of inclusive politics, the Corbynistas are guilty of one of the biggest swindles practised on the British people in modern times.



The 'Affordable Housing' Fraud

Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.

A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.

It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”

Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.

Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”

Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.

One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.

This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries — and so have many other people who never studied economics.

Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.

Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving “open space,” and “open space” has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to worry about housing prices.

Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.

How “complex” is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of “open space” would keep housing from becoming “unaffordable”?

Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of “open space,” “saving farmland,” or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?

When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?

However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?



Trump: Millions Who Pay No Taxes Will Keep Paying No Taxes

Donald Trump offered his tax plan Monday, and it has quite the populist appeal. His plan says, “If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households — over 50% — from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, ‘I win,’ those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.”

On top of that, he’d lower the top rate from 39.6% to 25%, and reduce corporate taxes from the current highest-in-the-world rate of 35% to 15%. On the other hand, he wants to eliminate deductions that help people like hedge fund managers pay a lower rate than many Americans. We suppose their tax forms will say, “I lose.”

Indeed, “eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich” is how he proposes to keep the plan “revenue neutral.” Fat chance of that. His proposed four brackets of 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% will “simplify the tax code,” he said. “It’ll grow the American economy at a level that it hasn’t seen for decades.”

It’s worth noting, as Trump does, that there are already millions of Americans who pay no income tax, though they do have to fill out complex tax forms to reach that conclusion. Thus, they have no “skin in the game,” and everyone should bear some of the burden, even if it’s just 1%. But Trump would expand the numbers paying nothing — smart politics.

On the other hand, these same workers pay a disproportionate share of the payroll tax, which supposedly funds the biggest drivers of our debt: Major entitlements.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)